Monday, 5 May 2014

Terrorism—a  short cut to heaven

Since time immemorial, human conflicts revolved around basic needs such as food, sex and shelter; that struggle for survival was sane and rational. During the last two thousand years, many people all over the globe fought for one more but insane reason: they battled to establish that their religion and gods were more powerful and genuine than others. People of many states made syndicates under the banner of their religions and attacked other states. They forced people of other religions to follow them and worship their gods. What were the motives behind such barbaric activities? Why did countless devotees of Jesus violate his core teachings? Why did many followers of Moses refuse to follow the Ten Commandments?

In fact, after prophets, the subsequent priests changed the doctrines in coalition with contemporary kings. They instigated an altogether new concept; they propagated that devotees must try their best to spread their religion. They proclaimed that to publicise the glory of gods was a pious activity, which appeased the gods and ensured them heaven after death. Consequently, many people began devoting their entire life to the purpose of spreading their religion.

These devotees spread their religions through teachings, greed or fear. In order to prove their gods more powerful and kind, they even violated the concept of non-violence—the core of their own religion. History mentions that many wars were followed by the conversion of the vanquished. From ancient time until the end of early modern period, the priests and kings were either the same or complementary; they both used religions to fulfil their ambitions. Many times, the duo motivated the soldiers through a promise of gods’ blessing, conquered the nearby states and ultimately converted their citizens. Gradually, forced conversions became popular. During the period, the duo used religions to organize people under the umbrella of a divine power.

Many major massacres in history were committed just to spread religions or the duo propagated so to hide their ambitions. The devotees of one religion killed people of another and destroyed their places of worship. Surprisingly, no god tried to intervene and prevent this brutal violence! For a long period, extremists and their so-called divine books ruled the world. In order to explain the religiously motivated evils, eminent scholar Blaise Pascal wrote: ‘Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious convictions.’

Although kings and priests fought countless wars to safeguard their religions, their gods have nothing to do with these wars. All the wars were results of human ambitions. Now, the question arises: how did the duo instigate wars with the help of religious motivation? Before each war, they taught soldiers that they would fight a holy war for the protection of their religion and gods. With this fallacy, they could motivate soldiers to fight fearlessly for the sake of gods and justify their barbaric ambitions. At the same time, priests assured soldiers that they would reach heaven in case of their death. Thus, they blinded the soldiers towards the reason and danger. After each holy war, the winners forcefully converted the vanquished and forced them to worship their gods. Usually, they looted the belongings, kept young females in their harems and enslaved the rest of the captured people. It is again obvious that the powerful people of all ages used religions and gods to fulfil their ambitions.

Apart from the ambitions of kings and priests, the concept of one and only one God also instigated major violence in history. Around three thousand years ago, the Jewish Bible, Old Testament, began propagating monotheism—belief in the existence of one God. From that time until modern age, the doctrine of monotheism led to many religious conflicts.

During the early part of this period, the major population of the world lived in thousands of independent tribal groups, small states and kingdoms; they practiced their own indigenous religions. Monotheists were developed, motivated and organized; therefore, they defeated the tribes and small states. All tribal religions had many gods; therefore, tribal people were always ready to accept new gods. On the contrary, the scriptures of monotheistic religions documented one common assertion: ‘God said, “I am the only God, there is no other god and do not worship other gods but me.”’

By addition of ‘no other god’, the books denied the existence of all other divine powers. Thus, monotheists disavowed all other faiths and therefore endeavoured to teach the infields about the real God. They left no stone unturned to propagate that their invented God was the only God. The weak had to worship their God or sacrifice their life: this process continued and killed millions, just to enforce the principle of ‘no other god.’ Gradually, the process converted a major population of the world to one or other monotheist faith.

Apart from forced conversions, monotheists began fighting amongst themselves too. Around the end of the seventh century CE and later, there were three monotheistic religions in the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Devotees of all the three believed that there was only one God in the world. Jews believed that Yahweh was the only God. Christians proclaimed another God—the father of Jesus. Muslims insisted that Allah was the only God. All these claims together, however, point to the existence of three Gods in the world. For a considerable period, there has been a controversy that most devotees of each religion believed that their God was the only God and the other two were illusions. Jews propagated that Yahweh was the only God and the other two did not exist. Christians and Muslims declared similar beliefs. They fought several battles, during the last thirteen centuries: even after those wars, many wise priests of all the three could not ascertain whether there were three Gods or one God in the world.

For that long period and even today, many genius priests cannot comprehend a simple logic. In case there is only one God, it is obvious that Yahweh, God (father of Jesus) and Allah must be the three different names of one ultimate divine power. Surprisingly, common devotees of all the three religions understood and followed this simple logic. Furthermore, the holy Koran mentioned the same: ‘Allah is the God worshipped by Abraham, Moses and Jesus.’ Apart from the same God, the Koran attested many fables of the Bible as well. Even after the seal of Muhammad, many well read but staunch followers of all the three religions could not decipher the message of monotheism.

This fanaticism and religious warfare were not only confined to the pages of history: modern terrorists are also fighting under the umbrella of religions. The kingpins of violence are still motivating soldiers with the help of religious convictions. Why do modern youths turn into terrorists and endanger their life? What desires, motives or ambitions do they intend to achieve after killing the innocents? Apart from the unemployed and uneducated ones, many educated and prosperous people are committing terrorist activities.

Can we reasonably comprehend the motive of present-day suicide bombers? What is the attraction or passion of a suicide bomber? Do they crave some blessing? What blessing can attract somebody to dedicate their most prized possession, their life? Let us try to understand the motive of countless terrorists fighting with a serious risk to their lives.

In fact, fanaticism is the extreme form of fundamentalism—the strict adherence to the ancient holy scriptures. It is achieved by carving the mind of each individual from childhood. An extremist with a burning desire to dedicate life for his religion may choose to commit religious terrorism. It is not an extempore transformation: it is a result of deliberate religious teachings.

Certain extremist parents and priests teach their age-old knowledge to their children. They initiate such teachings from childhood and thus hypnotize the victims for lifetime. In order to motivate youths for terrorism, the extremist priests make almost similar promises. Commonly, they teach that the holy violence, to safe guard your religion, appeases God. The devotee who will die during the holy task will reach heaven immediately and bring glory and honour to their family. They preach several stories of past religious wars and glorify the dead soldiers who dedicated their lives for the noble cause. They further assert that these martyrs are living in heaven happily.

These children are motivated daily that they must also dedicate their life to safeguard their religion and thus their gods. The priests preach that they need not fear death; offering their life for the sake of religion is such a pious deed that would ensure heaven for them in case of their death. Aspiration of heaven through holy violence is an illusion that grows by teachings. After such teachings, certain children develop a burning desire to dedicate their life to religion.

These children may turn out to be suicide bombers. After they grow up, some of them may tie bombs round their waists with a conviction that they would find themselves in heaven immediately after the explosion. Heaven and only heaven can attract someone to suicide.

Most religious texts aver that a devotee could achieve heaven after practising a stern moral behaviour for his whole life. On the other hand, any young suicide bomber can easily achieve heaven, decades earlier than his peers, after committing a minute act of criminal bravery. Thus, to achieve heaven, it is wiser to work for one moment instead of following rigorous morals for decades. This is the fundamental reason behind the desire of terrorists to dedicate their life to religion.

Just a few decades ago, fundamentalism and extremism was gradually reducing. All over the globe, the light of science was guiding people to come out of the age-old superstitions. However, during the last two decades, activities of religious terrorists increased and they have committed several massacres, in order to safeguard their religion.

After such killings of innocents, the intelligentsia of the earth is less sanguine about the success of truth over superstitions. Are extremists going to rule the planet earth again! Contrary to the past, today’s terrorists are equipped with modern weapons and therefore have the potential to annihilate the earth. Today, extremism, the product of fundamentalism, is a big threat to the security of the globe. Humankind has to eradicate the disease of extremism to enjoy the heaven it has built on the earth.

Religion is not intrinsic to humans. No child is ever born in this world, even from a fundamentalist family, displaying any trace of religion anywhere on its body or mind. However, after each birth, society tattoos the name of its religion on child’s forehead and inside. Society moulds its new generations into the belief system it follows. Each child acquires the knowledge of its religion through teachings of its parents, priests and peers.

Extremism is an outcome of illiteracy, poverty and conditioning from childhood; therefore, in order to eradicate it, humanity has to initiate scientific education from the primary school level itself. Future generations must receive authentic knowledge about religions and gods to devise a hatred-free society. Schoolbooks must teach about the evolution of gods—the study of origin of life, anthropology of religions and a brief history of major religions.

Today, these topics are there within syllabus of high school in several countries. However, the content of the books are not enough; they must elaborate these topics at length. Furthermore, many parents and priests often restrain their children to understand the truth. They initiate spoon-feeding about their own religion earlier than the schools.

The facts about the evolution of gods may vaccinate youths against the disease of extremism. After this, extremists could not misguide and transform the enlightened youths into suicide bombers. They would perceive people as human beings and not as Hindus, Jews or Christians; they would never aspire to leave the heavenly earth for an imaginary heaven.

The article is an excerpt from

The Evolution of Gods

By Ajay kansal

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